Buck Hollow — Cave Falls — Pass Mountain Loop

This is an extended version of the Buck Hollow — Pass Mountain Loop and Cave Falls Loop. Instead of returning to your car on the Buck Hollow Trail, this route makes a second loop on the Appalachian Trail and Pass Mountain Trail. The highlight is Mary’s Rock, with panoramic views to the north and west. The last 4 mile descent is divine.

  • 20.5 miles
Running time
  • 3.5–6 hours
Total ascent/descent
  • 5,100 feet
    250 feet/mile


From the parking area on Route 211 take the Buck Hollow Trail 0.2 miles to the intersection with the Buck Ridge Trail. Take a left onto the blue-blazed Buck Ridge Trail and begin the steep ascent. At the top of the ridge, make a left onto the yellow-blazed Hazel Mountain Trail (mile 3.0) and in 1.1 miles make another left onto the White Rocks Trail. In 0.9 miles reach a sidetrail on your right, which descends a steep 0.2 miles down to Cave Falls. Return to the White Rocks Trail and continue for 1.2 miles, passing by White Rocks (views) before a steep descent down to the Hazel River (this is a good place to cool off or get water on a hot day).

Shortly after crossing the river, make a right onto the Hazel River Trail and begin a nice gradual 2.7 mile ascent back up to the ridge. This is an old roadbed with beautiful stone work in some of the switchbacks. On top of the ridge (mile 8.1) make a right onto the yellow-blazed Hazel Mountain Trail and continue for 2.9 miles. You will pass by the White Rocks Trail and the Ridge Trail, which you took earlier. Stay on the Hazel Mountain Trail until you reach Hazel Mountain parking area on Skyline Drive.

Cross Skyline Drive, and find the Meadow Spring Trail about 50 yards to the left. Climb the Meadow Spring Trail for 0.6 miles, passing the ruins of an old homestead, before meeting the intersection of the white blazed Appalachian Trail (AT). Turn right (north) on the AT following it for 0.8 miles before arriving at the junction of the Mary’s Rock Lookout Trail. Turn left uphill on the Mary’s Rock Lookout Trail for 0.1 miles and come to the Mary’s Rock vista.

Continue north on the AT, descending into Thornton Gap where restrooms and a snack bar are available in season. This is mile 15 of the run. Continue on the AT, crossing Route 211, and beginning ascent up Pass Mountain. In 1.7 miles, take a right and follow signs for the Pass Mountain Shelter. Pick up the Pass Mountain Trail and descend for 2.2 miles. Turn right onto the Turn Bridge Trail and continue for 0.7 miles to Route 211. When you reach the road, make a left and run 1 mile back to your car.

Last updated May 23, 2020

What you do is up to you, but you shouldn't rely on these directions alone; they are often not specific enough to navigate by, and may be incorrect or out of date. Review a map beforehand and carry it with you. Tell a friend where you are going and when you plan to return. Do not count on having cell phone service while on the run. The VHTRC is not responsible for your welfare on any of these runs. If you go on one of these runs and get lost, run out of water, get injured, mauled by a bear, or die, or if anything else goes wrong, it's your fault; not ours. You assume all risks here and the VHTRC assumes none at all. Legal issues aside, some of these runs are more remote than others and the VHTRC is not suggesting that you do any of these runs, unless you are prepared to accept full responsibility for yourself.